Always knew good product photography doesn’t happen in the blink of an eye, although its something I have not had much cause to be involved with. However, I came across this interesting case study about how one photographer tackled photographing a high-end wrist watch.
Trying to ignore the looming fate of the First Team, I’ve enjoyed photographing the Academy teams – The Reds and The Whites, U18s who play in the Football Conference Youth Alliance matches against similar academy teams across the south-east. Mostly with some very good results – 13:0 and 10:0 most recently. I also attended a presentation made by local school children who have done a project around the football club, including curriculum topics like maths, English, geography, history and art. Putting sometimes ‘dry’ topics into real-world settings with some positive outcomes. Most amusing was the report made that the children had met Kaka – the academy player who featured in the 2014 Nike advert “Winner stays on”. He is/was quite a celebrity and the children wanted his autograph!
Andy Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame lives on.
I have loved Dire Straits music since the 1990s and still have loads of CDs and more recently, Mark Knopfler’s country/folk music with his distinctive voice and guitar. Come across this youtube of “Privateer” live in Barcelona. Worth a listen.
In 2010 we bought a brand-new Panasonic inverter fridge-freezer. In August, for some odd reason, it started playing up. Beeping at us and flashing digits. I gave it a good clean out, the freezer wasn’t iced up though. Then I noticed that the freezer wasn’t that cold, and very soon it was apparent that the freezer wasn’t working at all, even though the fridge was. Oh dear. I thought we’d bought a quality item, obviously built-in obsolescence of 4 years. Impressed – NOT.
So how to get it fixed? Well the saga goes that I contacted Panasonic who put me in touch with their ‘customer care’ people at Glen Dimplex – somewhere near Liverpool I think. Their chaps on the phone were most helpful, offered a one-payment upfront deal to fix and repair the thing. Just wanted it done. Firstly they said they could only come about 2 weeks away. So hesitated, tried another independent repair company, Cool Easy, that they recommended too. Chap told me his charges, and the fact that replacement parts could be pretty expensive. So after some discussion, we decided to go back to Glen Dimplex.
So paid their fee, arranged for a chap to come the following Monday and they said, very nicely, that he would ring on Monday morning before 10 to let us know roughly what time he would arrive. So 10am came and went, no call. Spent some 30 mins on the phone trying to get through to Glen Dimplex to find out what was happening. Transpired that the engineer hadn’t received the information and didn’t know he was supposed to come. OK, so mistakes happen. Re-booked for the following Tuesday when they said they would send ‘their own engineer’. Waited in vain. No call, no engineer. Same nonsense. Somewhat frustrated, had some tough words with Glen Dimplex, particularly since I’d paid up front for a service not received. One last go, re-scheduled for a third time, still no show. Phoned up, highly aggrieved, requested a refund of my fee (which, mercifully, is about the only thing they managed to do successfully).
To say I am unimpressed is a gross understatement, and we still don’t have a functioning freezer – almost 3 months. Fortunately we kept the old fridge freezer in the garage and have pressed that into service – it was just being used for beers!
Can anyone actually recommend an engineer to do this job? Someone who will actually turn up when arranged. Update: found another parts supplier who sent an engineer who determined it was probably the compressor that was on its way out and blown the circuit boards. Transpired it was a no-hoper and unrepairable. So Panasonic = trash. Buying a new fridge freezer, and it WON’T be a Panasonic. Going for a Hotpoint. Even the engineer said that Panasonic might make good TVs but can’t compete with the ‘traditional’ white goods makers. Apparently Samsung fridge freezers have a tendancy to catch fire because of inadequate wiring. So beware.
My current view is NEVER buy from Panasonic. Certainly will be my mantra based on this experience. Surely their equipment ought to last more than 4 years?
I picked all the tomatoes that seemed to have taken all summer to ripen. Some had turned red, but as the forecast was for colder temperatures I decided it was better to pick all of them still green. All those cardboard egg boxes I’d been saving all summer were pressed into use. I had quite a few red tomatoes and since we were going away for a long weekend, I thought I had better do something about them when we got back. So, what do you do with a load of tomatoes? Chutney! I found a recipe that needed 1kg of ripe tomatoes. I weighed out what I had and amazingly I had a good 1kg of mixed plum and round tomatoes.
The recipe needed chopped tomatoes, onions and apples. So having roughly cut them into quarters, I pressed the food processor into use. All tipped into the large stockpot pan. Added brown sugar, garlic, mustard seeds, cloves and grated fresh ginger and raisins. All brought to the boil, red wine vinegar added. Smelled quite lovely.
I found that our local Homebase was selling off Kilner jars, so bought the remaining 5 small (250g) jars, thinking that it wouldn’t make that much chutney! These were £1.29 instead of £1.99. Pity there were only five left.
I washed and also sterilized them in the dishwasher and put the lids into very hot water towards the end of the cooking period. I spooned in the chutney (it made more than five jars, so fortunately I had also dug out some small used jam jars and put them in the dishwasher also, just in case.
I cleaned the lip and sides of the jars and put on the kilner lid and screwed on the tops. As the chutney cooled down I could hear the lids ‘ping’ from domes to flat as the vacuum inside the jars sealed the chutney. So far, so good. Now have to wait at least a month for the flavours to develop and the chutney should keep for six months, a month in the fridge once opened. Just in time for Christmas.
So, today I decided to have a go at making orange marmalade, mainly due to making a trip to Lakeland to get some labels for the jars. I saw the tins of marmalade pulp on sale and, being in the mood, bought one, supposedly to make 6 jars. Stopped off for some sugar on the way home, and called into Homebase again to see if they had any more kilner jars. Found the last 3-pack of 500g jars for £4.99.
Once home, pressed the stockpot pan into use again. Opened the can of pulp and put that in the pan with the sugar and a measured amount of water. That’s all! As the mixture heated and I was stirring, I got out my cooking thermometer and clipped it to the pan. As the sugar dissolved and the mixture came to the boil I put the new kilner jars and a few 1lb jam jars into the dishwasher. After a lengthy time stirring the mix and then letting it boil until it reached setting point (I checked the thermometer during the process) and I put in a knob of butter to dissipate the foam that builds up. I did the set test with a teaspoon of mix onto a cold saucer to see if it ‘wrinkled’. So far so good. Jam jars hot and out of the dishwasher. Filled with a jug of hot marmelade. It made just five jars, not six. Put waxed discs on top of the liquid screwed on the lids and let them cool down. A lovely rich golden color with shreds of peel inside. They look lovely.
At least the grotty wet and cold weather has made me do something useful indoors!
So, game 12 of the Conference Premier 2014-15 season brought Dartford to Nuneaton Town. Looking up local sayings, it seems Treacle Town is local name for Nuneaton. It was a nickname given to Nuneaton on account of the former jam and treacle factory based there where, as the entertainer Larry Grayson used to quip, his friend Apricot Lil worked. It was altogether a strange day. Got to Dartford’s stadium for the off, only to see no coach, just one of those trendy smart cars in Kings Ferry livery – going to be a bit of a crush, innit?
So after the jokes were exhausted, the ‘real’ coach appeared, and not the usual VIP one either. This time, we were treated to the Sheffield United’s team coach. Leather seats, posh catering. Not bad! So, after a fairly uneventful trip up the M1
So, after a fairly uneventful trip up the M1, we arrive at Liberty Stadium. The weather is overcast with some threatening-looking clouds, but it stayed dry and was quite warm for late September. Dartford were wearing their third kit for the first time this season. Since Nuneaton Town play and blue and white, and Dartford’s away kit is blue and white, it was deemed necessary to adopt the yellow and black away kit. The lads looked nice in custard!
I noticed that on one side of the stadium the turnstiles looked pretty decorative and unlike most of the rather utilitarian things I have seen at other grounds. Perhaps they were salvaged from some Victorian zoo, or even the treacle factory?
There is a strange and somewhat unsettling mini-cemetary in the car park. There is a memorial to one side and plenty of room for more. I wondered what it all meant, it seems a rather strange thing to find in a car park.
I ought to read up more on the shenanigans of non-league football. They should make a soap series about it. In 2008 the Nuneaton Borough club was liquidated, and due to a FA ruling was reformed as Nuneaton Town – suffering a two division demotion. The club is still known as ‘The Boro’ by its supporters. On Monday 8th September following a poor start to the 2014/15 season just after seven games manager Brian Reid was sacked, after a number of poor results and poor performances. This game against Dartford was the first for newly appointed manager Liam Daish, formerly manager of Ebbsfleet for 8 years and a long-time colleague of Dartford’s manager, Tony Burman.
But to sour the moment for Mr Daish, it was reported in the papers that the Chief Executive of Nuneaton Town, Ian Neale, was arrested and in custody after a fracas at a Charity bash at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry. He allegedly punched another guest causing a suspected broken nose. “He was detained at the scene by other guests and police arrested him at 12.40am.”Neale was part of Nuneaton Town Football Club’s table at a fundraising ball for the NSPCC. He wasn’t at the club for the game, unsurprisingly (probably still in custody waiting for bail) and the reaction from the other management officers was suitably dismissive. It was reported on Sunday 28 September via the Nuneaton Town website that chief executive Ian Neale has resigned from his role at the club.
A statement on Boro’s website read: “Ian Neale has today resigned his position as the Chief Executive Officer and Director of Nuneaton Town Football Club.”
Ian Neale owns the construction company that built the new Nuneaton Borough purpose built ground, Liberty Way, in time for the 2007–08 season. In the 2007–08 season, owner Ted Stocker planned to sell his shares as he was suffering from ill health and in March 2008 Ian Neale planned to take ownership of the club for a trial period but he took 100% ownership of the club in April. In May 2008, Ian Neale found some irregularities in the finances of the club and fears raised that the club would have to be forced into administration. On 2 June 2008 Nuneaton Borough went into liquidation. What followed is culled from Wiki.
The new directors soon found they had inherited excessive debts despite the sale of Manor Park to property developers. The new club reverted to its former name of Nuneaton Town and were demoted two divisions from Conference North to Southern League Division One. The club underwent complete restructuring with facilities being upgraded and revamped for the supporters. The 2011/12 season was to see Nuneaton gain promotion back to the Conference Premier for the first time in 10 years. After maintaining a high league position throughout the season Boro’ were dealt a blow as the season entered its final few weeks when an administration error led to a 6 point deduction.
Just to make Mr Daish’s inaugural game complete, Dartford came back and scored 2 goals late in the second half to take the win.
We learned after the match that one of the catering ovens had broken, the chef had resigned and some of the chicken offered as a post-match meal with only partly cooked. What a ghastly end to a nightmare weekend for Nuneaton Town. Let’s hope things get better. Anyhow, in local parlance, there’s no point Blarting over it.
Well, Dartford got a reprieve from relegation and now find themselves back in the Premier division. Quite a challenge ahead, I think. After four matches, no wins, a draw or two but no goals to celebrate. Then, Bank Holiday Monday, 25 August 2014, we had an away trip to Barnet in North London. I wasn’t going to go, but decided against all logic that in the pouring rain it would be OK! Took half an hour to get from Princes Park to the tollbooths at the Dartford Tunnel, such was the queue of traffic. Took an hour to get to the A10 turnoff on the M25 and eventually got there about 2pm. Was able to collect the media pass much more easily than last year, when they made us traipse the length of the stadium, across a car park to a portacabin ticket office. Thank heavens they changed that. So far so good.
Once pitchside, the rain continued relentless. My waterproof jacket and trousers were pressed into use for the first time since the end of last season. By the end of the match they were saturated and not really up to the job!
A lot of the ‘regular’ Dartford supporters boycotted the game after last year’s incidents, and I can’t say I blame them. The team did not travel on the coach, but made their own way there as a lot of the team live north of the Thames. Quite a few supporters made their own way, and the coach was not filled by any means. Barnet segregated the supporters, allocating the north stand behind the goal at one end, and a portion of the west stand with orange seats near the away supporters entrance, as last year. It was pouring with rain and most took shelter pre-match in the supporters bar. I am staggered that a place like Barnet can provide quite sumptuous facilities for the home supporters with tables, banquet chairs, hot food, bar etc but can only provide a cold, empty room with no seating at all. One lady told me she had to stand in the rain to queue at the entrance twice, as they gave her ‘stand’ tickets when she wanted ‘seated’ and even though the price is the same and the segregated areas are adjacent they insisted she stand in line in the rain just to swap the paper ticket!
As an accredited photographer, with a highviz, portable seat and camera, its usually not difficult to find somewhere convenient to shoot the game from. Barnet make life difficult. Pitchside there is very little room between the barriers and the touchline, and I decided to shoot the first half from the other side for my own safety. Then, when I’d got fed up with being soaked, I decamped to the first few rows of the west stand and well out of the way of anyone, as the handfull of supporters were much higher up. Then I get told I can’t shoot from either of those places, only from ‘designated media positions’, either inside the pitch or under the stand behind the goal, or leave! Charming. Met up with another photographer who was under the shelter of the stand to avoid the rain and we had a right old moan about Barnet. He told me there were girls at the entrance selling tickets and they were reluctant to let him through to the club shop without buying a ticket! Not only that, but the staff in the club shop were incapable of directing him to the somewhat ‘hidden’ area just behind the shop through some double doors where he needed to get his media pass from and sent him on a wild goose chase before he finally find out where he should go. Having shot at Premier League grounds in the past, his view was Barnet were far more difficult and less welcoming.
Towards the end of the game I spotted twelve stewards and seven police in the away supporters part of the stadium. I could only see three stewards in the rest of the ground. A bit overkill, given there were about 100 supporters. Still, I suppose Mr K has money aplenty. Pity he doesn’t spend a bit more on the visitor experience.
Lighten up, Barnet, it is ONLY a game.
I was watching an episode of Saturday Kitchen Live and was captivated by Rachel Khoo and her tiny Paris kitchen and was watching her create a ‘croque madame’ for breakfast. So I decided to try. I made a bechamel sauce with a tablespoon of butter, a tablespoon of flour and 200ml milk. Use a whisk in the pan to bring it all together and stop it getting lumpy. I added a teaspoon of French mustard and a little grated nutmeg, as per the video. Then I grabbed the ubiquitous white sliced loaf – presumably not that easily obtained in Paris! I cut the crusts off two slices and got the rolling pin out and and flattened them out to a square. Then brushed the bread with melted butter. I fitted them into non-stick muffin trays, put some thin sliced ham in the bottom. Taking the advice from the video I cracked an egg for each, but drained most of the white off to use later, putting the yolk and a small amount of white onto the ham. Then a tablespoon of Bechamel sauce on top. I brushed the top of the bread muffin with extra melted butter and I used some grated cheese I had in the fridge to top them off and then put in the oven, 200deg C for 15 minutes (as I like my yolks a bit runny).
These were incredibly yummy.
They didn’t take long to make, and I kept the left-over sauce in the fridge and made more the following day for breakfast.
Not a lot to say about Dartford FC’s performance over the last months of the 2013-2014 season. Pretty dire apart from a few moments of inspired brilliance. Dartford couldn’t avoid relegation (and we now know they were recently miraculously now reinstated into the Conference Premier after the colourful shenanigans at Salisbury City). Interesting, today, the Salisbury City FC website is down. Chester were also relegated at the end of the season, finishing above Dartford and they have already been reinstated following the expulsion of Hereford United for financial irregularities.
The current list of clubs in the Conference Premier are:
I was resigned to the team playing back in the South league, and (at the same time) perversely looking forward to the opportunity to travel to a different set of away games, but I can now see there are some ‘new’ venues in the Premier list, including Altrincham, Bristol, Dover and Torquay, so its not all deja vu!
A past season notable game was Friday 7 March’s televised game against Chester FC. Televised by BT Sport (last time it was Premier Sport). The super-star footballers were John Rooney for Chester FC and Mikel Suarez recently signed for Dartford.
Wonder what its like to be a footballer with a name similar to those Premier League Celebrities, and for John Rooney to have the Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney as a brother?
In the event, Rooney proved superior to Suarez in team terms, and Chester took the win.
After England’s disastrous match against Uruguay in the World Cup on 19 June 2014, it seems once again that Rooney battles Suarez. This time, Suarez triumphed. And without biting anyone!
At the recent Annual General Meeting, I was voted in as the next President of Dartford & District Photographic Society, after the sad demise of the previous President, Alun Evans, after a long illness. In the fifty+ years of Dartford & District Photographic Society, this is the first time that a lady has filled the post of President. With lots of support and assistance from other ‘old hands’ I am looking forward to the next four years. I hope that as there are very few lady Presidents in the camera club world, that I can in some small way show people that this is the way forward for the 21st century. Ladies are very much a part of the photographic world and contribute a lot to the visual art. Girls rule, huh!